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An Interview With John Ward

By: Tony Hamilton
Date: 30/07/2003

IN another of our series on 'Where Are They Now?' Tony Hamilton talked to John Ward about his time at Blundell Park and his role in football today.

Home > Features > Interviews > John Ward

Fishy: How did you come to Grimsby Town?

John: George Kerr, who was Manager of Grimsby, had been my coach at Lincoln City and knew me very well. I had just been released by Watford as a player and George offered me a one-year contract, which I happily accepted.

Fishy: Can you remember whom you made your debut against?

John: My debut was against Derby County at the old Baseball Ground. Then score was 0 - 0 which was a good result for us against a very good team.

Fishy: The Team you played in, how would it fare in the Football League now?

John: The team of 1981 - 82 would fare well today as I believe that good players through the years would have been good in any era. Good solid quality of Nigel Batch, Kevin Drinkell, Kevin Moore, Mike Brolly and Tony Ford would benefit from all the fitness improvements learned over the years. Batch and Drinkell may have had to cut down on the cigarettes and the odd pint of lager though.

Fishy: Some of our younger supporters wont remembers your team mates so can you name XI you played in while at Grimsby Town?

John: Team consisted of above and Andy O'Dell, Crosby, Mike C.

Fishy: How did you come across Graham Taylor?

John: Graham Taylor and I both played in the same Lincoln City team from 1971 onwards. We got changed next to each other on trainings days and took that into a friendship that still holds very strong today. Graham later became coach and Manager at Lincoln and I played under him at both Lincoln City and Watford

Fishy: What did you do when you left Grimsby Town?

John: I actually went back to Lincoln City for the final 6 weeks of the season from Grimsby with only a few minutes to spare on deadline day. I only played one more league game for Lincoln against Swindon Town to complete my playing career.

Fishy: How did you finish your career in football?

John: I had suffered four knee operations in my ten year playing career and suffered a back injury at Blundell Park which made my mind up to stop playing. I had been offered a coaching role at Watford looking after their young reserve team. I had qualified as a coach during my playing days having obtained my full licence in 1978 at Bisham Abbey

Fishy: How did you become interested in coaching?

John: I became interested in coaching whilst a player at Lincoln City encouraged by boss Graham Taylor, coach Bert Loxley and fellow player Ian Branfoot with whom we set up the Lincoln & District Coaches Association. By 1978 I had taken both my Preliminary and Full Badge coaching licences and had worked with a local under 13 team on week evenings and Sunday mornings which I found a more than useful grounding for what was to come.

Fishy: What highlights did you have in your playing career?

John: Highlights as a player - Promotion 1975 - 76 Lincoln City

Fishy: What honours did you get while being a coach/assistant manager/manager?

John: As a coach FA Cup FinalWatford. UEFA cup football Watford. Promotion, 2nd to 1st Aston Villa. Runners up 1st DivisionAston Villa. England Under 21 Coach - B - Coach

As a Manager Promotion Div 3 to Div 2 York City. Promotion Div 2 to Div 1 Bristol City

As an assistant manager Div 1 Play offs Wolves. Play off winners Div 1 to Premier. Wolves

Fishy: What coaching qualifications do you have?

John: Full Licence UEFA 'A' Football Diploma

Fishy: Did you enjoy your time at Grimsby Town?

John: I enjoyed my short spell at Blundell Park and I am continually surprised that some people actually remember that I appeared for the club at all. However, I think George Kerr tells a few stories as he is often there in the press box!!

Fishy: Describe the position you played for Grimsby Town?

John: I played as a forward - off a bigger centre forward

Fishy: What influence has Graham Taylor had on your career?

John: I have often said that if Graham Taylor would watch a week of my work he would see a lot of himself there. I not only enjoyed the work with Graham but learned a great deal which has stood me in good stead when I ventured out on my own. His attention to detail and patience to get things right stand out as does his respect for his players and the game in general.

Fishy: How did you arrive at Wolves?

John: I was out of work having been sacked at Bristol City and Colin Lee lost a coach as Caretaker of Wolves. I rang Colin to ask if he needed help. We met two days later, agreed to work without a contract with no time limit and stayed just under 5 years!

Fishy: How do you think Grimsby Town will do in Division 2 next season?

John: Division 2 is a difficult league to get promotion from but if Town can keep the nucleus of their team and remain patient they have as good a chance as anyone to succeed.

Fishy: Do you still keep in touch with any ex Town team mates?

John: As indicated I didn't spend lot of time at the club and only see ex-team mates or staff through matches that I am involved in.

Fishy: Would you ever consider becoming manager of Grimsby Town?

John: At this particular moment I would welcome any job in football as Wolves sacked me just five weeks after being promoted and three days before pre-season as the Manager 'would like a change.

Fishy: Thanks a lot John for this interview and good luck to you in getting back into football.

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